Anyone in the restaurant industry knows working a brunch shift can be intense, but it can also be a bonding experience. “It definitely puts you into a mindset of sink or swim,” says John Boisse, one of the two-person team behind the eclectic pop-up Astral. He should know: He was a part of the team that started Toki’s blockbuster brunch, alongside partner Lauren Breneman. When Duality Brewing’s Michael Lockwood started working Toki brunch with them, the three chefs got even closer.
In certain ways, those Toki brunches ended up being strong preparation for the project they’ll embark on this year: Duality Brewing and Astral’s combination restaurant and brewpub, landing in a Kerns warehouse space this spring. The brewery and taproom will serve brunch, lunch, and dinner throughout the day, alongside Duality’s seasonal beers and espresso drinks.
To start, Duality will offer a handful of beers any given day, rotating in and out seasonally. Lockwood, whose culinary career included stints at Eem and Kachka, approaches his beers from a chef’s perspective, often incorporating seasonal ingredients and fruits like Groundwork strawberries or Hood River pears; that ethos will translate to Duality’s new location. The brewery will also offer a number of low-ABV beers, as well as espresso for those not quite ready for booze. “You can sit and have a beer in the middle of the day, if that’s what you want to do,” says Alyssa LeCompte, Lockwood’s partner at Duality. “We want it to be a place to meet a friend, or you could stay and work for four hours if you wanted to.”
In the kitchen, Boisse and Breneman will focus on “an approachable, somewhat fast-casual bar menu,” in Boisse’s words, leaving room for spontenaity. For example, the menu will likely have a ceviche any given visit, though the fish and produce may change. The kitchen will offer a couple of rotating tacos, which will excite Astral devotees who have attended the chefs’ past pop-ups — over the last few years, they’ve served everything from lamb neck birria to tacos Arabes on house tortillas.
Boisse and Breneman met while working at Perennial Virant in Chicago; he was a morning sous chef, and she was a pastry sous chef. At their pop-ups, the two often pull inspiration from their shared culinary background and training, but also Boisse’s Mexican American culture. Those through lines will appear at the Duality Brewing taproom, from the brunch chilaquiles and tortas to the chicharron dish Boisse has been fantasizing about. “I’m working on one of the dishes we open with, a chicharron dish, but it’s a full belly chicharron, skin and belly,” he says. “It’s meant to be a salty, unctuous, fatty ... you just want to have a drink or two with that. That’s the direction we want to go in — simple and well-executed.”
That relaxed energy will translate to the space as well. LeCompte has been focusing on the aesthetics with designer Jean Amour, which will feature what she calls “a Pacific Northwest version of Mediterranean colors — whites, blues and greens in a deeper palette.” The brewpub’s roll-up doors will stay open in the summers, expanding seating onto the brewpub’s larger patio. In the winters, the wood-fired stove will keep the room cozy. “It’s a place where we wanted to hang out,” she says. “After we saw the space and saw it’d have a huge garden and deck, we were like, ‘This is it.’”
Duality Brewing will open at 715 NE Lawrence Avenue.